The Power of Parents

In 1950, little was known about intellectual disability (then referred to as ‘mental retardation’) and developmental disability, or its causes. There were virtually no programs and activities to assist in the development and care of people with I/DD or to support families. It was common for doctors to tell parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. But these advocates wanted more. They wanted their loved ones to lead fulfilling lives in the community and not be shuttered away in dark institutions. Emboldened by their collective desire to raise their children in the home and their refusal to accept that institutionalization was the only option, The Arc was born.

Through the decades, The Arc has advocated for the passage of state and federal legislation on behalf of people with disabilities and established a broad network of state and local chapters that range from small voluntary groups to large, professional organizations.

Changing With the Times

Words matter. Over time, as the words ‘retardation’ and ‘retarded’ became pejorative, derogatory, and demeaning in usage, the organization evolved its terminology to reflect the desires of people with disabilities, and changed its name to ‘The Arc’. While the term still appears occasionally, it has largely been replaced and usage of ‘intellectual disability’ and ‘developmental disability’ continues to spread.

We are doing everything in our power to make sure they’re adopted more broadly and strongly believe the only ‘r-word’ that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is respect.


Name History
1953 – 1973: National Association for Retarded Children (NARC)
1973 – 1981: National Association for Retarded Citizens (NARC)
1981 – 1992: Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States (ARC)
1992 – Present: The Arc of the United States (The Arc)

Timeline: The Arc of Anchorage Through the Years

Over the last several decades The Arc has been at the forefront of making change happen. Whether through advocacy or by supporting research efforts, The Arc leads the way. Here are just a few highlights!

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DATE – TIME

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DATE – TIME

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